There are 200 different alien species in this movie. Luc Besson wrote a 600 page book describing in details all the species. The actors had to read that book prior to filming so they can adjust their acting depending on the species they were interacting with.
The Welcoming Captains are all directors and/or writers Luc Besson has worked with.
The first two trailers use the song "Because" by the Beatles. It is the very first time a film director could obtain the rights for using a Beatles song in a movie advertisement. Permission was granted by Paul McCartney.
With a final production budget of EUR197.47 million, around $210 million in United States currency, the film is officially the most expensive ever made in France, significantly exceeding the budget of the previous record holder, Asterix at the Olympic Games (2008), which cost EUR102 million ($113 million). Twenty years earlier, director Luc Besson made The Fifth Element (1997), which was the most expensive French movie at the time with a budget of EUR90 million ($100 million).
After suffering a record loss of $135 million in the previous year, EuropaCorp had set its hopes on Valerian to turn in a much-needed profit. However, after the commercial failure of the film and a subsequent drop in company stocks of over 40%, deputy CEO Edouard de Vesinne was forced to step down from his position.
There are 2734 special effect shots in this movie compared to "only" 188 in 'The Fifth Element (1997)' ("See you in space" featurette).
When Valerian is in Big Market and a wanted notice is released, the bounty hunter that follows Valerian is at a bar named "Korben's", Korben Dallas is the name of the character Bruce Willis plays in Luc Besson's "The Fifth Element".
The film is based on the French science fiction comics series Valérian and Laureline, written by Pierre Christin and illustrated by Jean-Claude Mézières.
Director Luc Besson waived his own salary in order to get this film made, which was a life-long passion project of his.
During the "Welcoming"-scenes in the beginning, one Alien species being greeted are the "Mondoshawan", known from the film "The Fifth Element".
Luc Besson chose not to shoot the movie in 3D because 3D cameras are too heavy for his style of filming like running behind an actor or unusual angles of filming.
Luc Besson deliberately chose to shoot the film, an adaptation of a French comic, in English with English-speaking actors in order to raise its chances of a wider audience.
At one point, Igon Siruss tells Valerian, "I will find you and I will kill you." To which Valerian whispers, "Good luck." This is nearly identical to the now iconic exchange from Taken, which was also written by Luc Besson.
The futuristic New York City in Luc Besson's previous film The Fifth Element (1997) was visually inspired by "The Circles of Power", the fifteenth volume in the "Valérian and Laureline" comic series.
The main storyline is loosely based on "Ambassador of the Shadows", the sixth album in the comic book series. This was also the first Valerian story to be translated in English.
Luc Besson first premiered some footage at the 2016 San Diego Comic-Con. This footage received a standing ovation from the crowd in Hall H.
The opening scene begins in 1975. This is the year "Ambassador of the Shadows" (on which the film is loosely based) was first published in French.
The film opens with footage of the 1975 joint US/Soviet mission Apollo Soyuz Test Project. The mission ran from July 15, 1975 through July 24, 1975, 42 years to the week of the opening of this film.
The ship's computer "Alex" reports on Alpha One details over the 400 years since leaving Earth's orbit, that it has traveled over 700 million miles. That puts it just past Jupiter at a speed of 200mph
Rutger Hauer receives top billing (credited as "and Rutger Hauer" in the opening credits) despite having less than one minute of screen time. Director Luc Besson asked him to be in the film as an homage to Blade Runner (1982) and its director, Ridley Scott, who is a friend of Besson.
Before the Big Market mission Lauriline tells the commanding operative "Nice hat" which is a subtle nod to "The Fifth Element" Where Corbin Dallas tells a would be mugger the same thing.
The Pearls of Mül were an unidentified alien humanoid species in the original comic story "Ambassador of Shadows". Unlike the creatures in the movie, their skin color was red and black in the comic.
The Mül Converter creature in the movie functions the same way in the "Ambassador of Shadows" comic story, but had no connection to the aliens Pearls of Mül; Laureline is given the creature so she and Valerian would be able to help the Earth representative with the negotiations by producing the differing currencies used by the aliens.
Laureline is the main narrator and character the story follows in "Ambassador of Shadows". For example, she is the one who pilots the submarine to nab the mind-reading jellyfish, as well as the one who uses a shape-shifting alien to disguise herself to infiltrate the alien den. Valerian only shows up at the start and the end of the "Ambassador of Shadows" story, having been kidnapped along with the VIP.
Weta Digital and ILM (Industrial Light & Magic) have previously worked together on Contact (1997), Van Helsing (2004), Eragon (2006) and Avatar (2009), making Valérian and the City of a Thousand Planets their fifth collaboration.
Although Luc Besson states (in the Special Features of the Valerian Bluray) that the "Big Market" sequence was written into (or added) to the "Ambassador of Shadows" story, the market can be considered taken from the "Empire of a Thousand Planets" story (where the movie's title is modified from). In the "Empire of a Thousand Planets" story, Laureline purchases an old Earth pocket-watch, which sets in motion the rest of the strip's story.
Early in the Big Market mission, Laureline waves at the Kyrian alien guard in the tower with a Vulcan salute (Star Trek) before shooting and stunning him.
Cara Delevingne worked out for several months to get in shape for her role as Laureline.
The movie featured "Alpha Station", the City of a Thousand Planets, but the station was called "Point Central" in the "Ambassador of Shadows" comic. Point Central was first created by non-human alien races (it did not start off as the ISS) and added to slowly over time. Additionally, the Federation in the movie was the point being negotiated in the comic story; Earth is governed by something called "the Galaxity" instead of an actual Federation of races.
After production was completed, Cara Delevingne auditioned for and became a frontrunner for Lara Croft in Tomb Raider (2018) but lost out to Alicia Vikander.
In the middle of the big spacebattle, a fighter painted silver and yellow flies by the camera -the fighters Anakin Skywalker uses in "Star Wars" episode I and III, is painted silver and yellow. The battle draws very much inspiration from the big space battle in "Star Wars Episode III".